Microsoft has shown off a range of concept tech at a showcase event in Brussels.
But the event, called the Microsoft Growth and Innovation Day, isn't just about new tech in development. It's also designed to show the European Commission and other European policy makers that Microsoft is serious about investment in Europe, including the creation of new research facilities and new jobs as well as boasting about its partnerships with thousands of Euro firms. In other words, the message is very much 'we're the good guys' in the light of its continual antitrust wrangling with the European Commission.
The event included keynote presentations from dignitaries including Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for the Information Society. Introducing the event, Microsoft's Neil Holloway played up the corporation's huge investment in research and development within the EU.
"Ten years ago we were 19 offices with under 4,000 employees. We had products in 24 EU languages, just over 100,000 business partners, a lab in Cambridge with 25 researchers. Today we have 27 offices and employ 13,000 Europeans. Our R&D spend in Europe has grown from $3million to now over $500million." Formerly head of Microsoft in Europe, Holloway is now Vice President of Business Strategy at Microsoft International.
"There are around 40 labs and centres for research with over 1,500 researchers. And we only recently announced the opening of a Search R&D Centre in Paris, Munich and London which will translate into hundreds of jobs over the next five years," added Holloway. As we know, Microsoft is investing huge wedges of cash in search and is testing a new search engine codenamed Kumo.
eHealth tech was high on the agenda, with Microsoft showcasing its HealthVault software previously launched in the US.
"It's one of the most innovative technologies in play right now," said Mark Johnston Microsoft's Health Business Group. "The citizen is at the centre of how we need to transform healthcare."
"It's the first consumer health platform – software and services." You can connect up common health apparatus such as heart rate monitors to the system. The user is then in control of their own information including privacy, data sharing and the apps they use with the system.
Other topics were also discussed, including online safety and the future of online gaming within Europe as well as the difficulty of intellectual property rights – it's estimated that it costs three times as much to patent an idea within the EU as it does in the USA or Japan.
Holloway concluded his introduction to the event by saying that we should be hopeful about the potential of technology despite the tough economy. "Being optimistic and positive about what technology can accomplish is very, very important. The awesome potential of technology can only continue to inspire. A laptop today has more computer power than a mainframe did when I came to Microsoft. Mobile phones today are more powerful than the PCs that existed 10 or 12 years ago, at the start of the Internet era. And, over the next few years, we'll continue to go into uncharted territory as many-core chipsets and devices become common."
We also grabbed an exclusive interview with Neil Holloway and quizzed him about numerous topics including Windows 7 and Windows Mobile. Watch this space.